Morristown Alumnae Promotes Black Culture in Its Community
By Ferlanda Fox Nixon
“Say it loud! I’m Black and I’m proud!”
During the first four months of 2021, the members of the Morristown Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Incorporated, demonstrated their unabashed pride in their Black culture. Through a series of engaging workshops, Morristown Alumnae provided valuable cooking and hair care tips to the men, women, and children who reside in the chapter’s service areas.
Partnering with the Diversity Coalition of Morris County, Morristown Alumnae raised its hand to help host a virtual cooking class on how to prepare Southern-style collard greens and brown-sugar-swirl cornbread. The Diversity Coalition of Morris County is a nonpolitical association of individuals and faith- and community-based organizations that connects people to celebrate diverse cultures in Morris County, New Jersey.
Cindy Flowers, chair of Morristown Alumnae’s community outreach programs, kicked off the cooking demonstration with a brief history of collard greens and cornbread in the Black community. Boiled greens became a part of the Black diet in the United States during the slavery era. Enslaved people used cornbread to soak up the juices, also called pot liquor, left from the boiled greens. Flowers explained that cornbread and collard greens are staple food items considered to be “soul food,” a term introduced into the American lexicon during the Black Power Movement of the 1960s and 1970s.
After Flowers’s soul-food tutorial, married couple, Terry and Van Thompson, served as tag team cooking instructors, sharing tips on how to clean, season, and cook savory collard greens. While the greens were simmering, it took approximately 40 minutes to whip up a pan of brown-sugar-swirl cornbread, a Thompson-family favorite now sure to become popular throughout Morris County.
In February, Morristown Alumnae shifted its attention from forks and spoons to combs and brushes. Still collaborating with the Diversity Coalition of Morris County, the chapter facilitated a virtual reading of Hair Love, a children’s book written by Matthew A. Cherry and illustrated by Vashti Harrison. Hair Love tells the story of a Black father who must do his Black daughter’s hair for the first time. Following Flowers’s 15-minute reading of the short story, viewers (children and adults alike) shared their stories about the triumphs and challenges of their hair journeys.
With Hair Love serving as a teaser for the chapter, Morristown Alumnae featured its four-part virtual series, “I Am Not My Hair: The Twists, Knots, and Texture of Our Hair-Story,” in February, March, and April. The family-friendly program covered hair care (for men, women, and children), style, maintenance, and products; medical hair health; and physical fitness. Special guests included a licensed cosmetologist, family medicine physician, fitness instructor, author, and several entrepreneurs in the Black hair care industry.
“Morristown Alumnae continues to offer programs that enrich the members of our community and promote our proud heritage,” noted Marian Sykes Johnson, president of the chapter. “Cornrows, cornbread, and collard greens – it’s all good!”
By Ferlanda Fox Nixon “Say it loud! I’m Black and I’m proud!” During the first four months of 2021, the members of the Morristown Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Incorporated, demonstrated their unabashed pride in their Black culture. Through a series of engaging workshops, Morristown Alumnae provided valuable cooking and hair care tips …